It’s the end of 2021 already, and maybe you’re sick of hearing me or other people talk about goal-setting.
Maybe all this goal-setting talk reminds you of all the New Year resolutions you gave up on and the goals you’ve never achieved.
Maybe you feel like you’ve failed, that you’re not good at goal-setting or that you’re not made for goal-setting.
Maybe you’ve decided goal-setting is useless and pointless.
I totally understand. Goal-setting is a crucial life skill that — sadly — isn’t widely taught in school or at work.
But please, even if you’re sick of hearing about goal-setting, bear with me because I want to show you how setting goals can help you turn your life around and give you the freedom and the life you want!
So here are 8 reasons why you should sit down and take a few hours in the coming days or weeks to set your goals!
1. It works!
You might be thinking: “Yes, Sarah, of course, you think it works, otherwise, you wouldn't be doing this episode...”
And you’re right: of course, I believe it works! But what’s most important is that studies also show it works. 😉
Dr. Gail Matthews, a clinical psychologist from the Dominican University of California, did a study to evaluate “how goal achievement is influenced by writing goals, committing to goal-directed actions and being accountable for those actions ” (Matthews, 2020).
She recruited 149 participants from businesses, organizations, and business networking groups and divided them into five groups:
Group 1: the participants were asked to think about their goals without writing them. They were also asked to rate their goals “on the following dimensions: Difficulty, Importance, the extent to which they had the Skills & Resources to accomplish the goal, their Commitment and Motivation to the goal, whether or not they had Pursued this goal before and if so their Prior Success.”
Group 2: the participants were asked to write their goals and then rate them on the same dimensions as group 1.
Group 3: the participants were asked to write their goals, rate them on the same dimensions as group 1, and determine actions they could commit to in order to accomplish their goals.
Group 4: the participants were asked to do what group 3 did. In addition to that, they had to send their goals and their action commitments to an accountability buddy.
Group 5: the participants were asked to do what group 4 did, in addition to sending a weekly progress report to their accountability buddy.
And guess what?
The study found that the participants who had written their goals were 33% more likely to reach them compared to the people who hadn't written their goals. In addition, the participants that committed publicly to taking action towards the achievement of their goals and had an accountability buddy (group 5) accomplished their goals significantly more than the other groups.
So taking the time to write your goals is definitely the first step to take if you want to reach your goals. And if you want to increase your chances of accomplishing them, find yourself an accountability buddy with whom you’ll share your goals and the actions you will take to accomplish them as well as a regular report of your progress!
2. Know yourself better
Your goals reflect who you are and what you want out of life.
You might be wondering what your life purpose is, what is truly important for you, what your values are, what success looks like for you, etc.
By sitting down and listing down all the things you’d like to accomplish, you’ll get a pretty clear image of who you are and who you aspire to become.
And you’ll even be able to see how you can become your best self and reach your full potential because goals usually make you step out of your comfort zone and enter the growth mode!
3. Take control of your life
Setting goals allows you to know exactly where you want to go with your life and how to get there. It allows you to be more conscious about the way you use your time, energy, and efforts and encourages you to live more consciously and meaningfully.
Basically, goals give you both direction and purpose!
On the contrary, when you don’t set goals, it’s easier to be carried by the needs and desires of other people and not take complete charge of your life. It can lead you to go through life without accomplishing what YOU want. And, eventually, you might end up with a lot of regrets for everything you wanted and could have done but haven’t because you didn't take the time to set your goals...
4. It gives you a clear action plan
Goal-setting is only the first step of the process. Once you’ve set your goals, you need to determine how you’ll accomplish them. To do so, you should list all the tasks you’ll need to complete and all the habits you’ll have to implement to achieve your goals.
For the tasks, you should try to reduce them to their most actionable and simple form. For example, creating an Instagram account could be divided into these smaller tasks: sign up on Instagram, upload a profile picture, write a bio, etc.
Voilà! With this action plan, you should know exactly what, when, and how you need to do everything to achieve your goals. Now, all you need to do is get started! 😉
5. It motivates you
When you don’t have a goal with a precise deadline and a clear desired end result, it’s easy to keep putting things off and find excuses not to do something. You have all the time in the world to accomplish it, so why hurry? Especially if you have to do difficult or unpleasant things to accomplish it. It’s much better to do things you like instead, right?
However, if you decide you want to accomplish something you desire profoundly, that challenges and stimulates you, and take the time to plan how you’ll get there, it’ll be easier to be motivated to work on achieving it.
Of course, motivation can fluctuate while you’re working on your goals, and I’d be lying if I told you that having clearly set goals is a sure way to stay motivated 100% of the time. But when you have clearly in mind the end result you want to reach and why you want to reach it, it’s easier to stay motivated and keep progressing, even when your motivation dwindles.
6. It makes you more focused and better at decision making
Whereas your vision should give you the general direction you want to take in your life, goals give you the precise indication of what you should be spending your time and energy on in your daily life.
Having this clear focus should then help you with decision making because most — if not all — the distractions, external requests, low-importance and low-impact tasks should be eliminated. In theory, anything that doesn’t allow you to reach your goals should be given little to no attention.
Of course, we’re also here to enjoy life, and some of your goals should also be related to self-care, health, family and friends, etc. So it doesn't mean you shouldn’t enjoy a meal out with your friends or some time for yourself to relax. It just means you should be more mindful of how you use your time and energy and make sure that most of it goes towards your goals and achieving your dream life, and not somebody else’s!
7. It helps you get results and accomplish more
Once you start setting goals, working towards their accomplishment, and eventually being successful at it, you’ll want to challenge yourself to achieve more. You’ll be constantly pushing back the limit of what you thought you could accomplish. And you’ll start seeing that there really isn’t much you can’t do when you set your mind to it and put in the effort to do it.
You’ll see you keep learning, improving, growing, and you’ll want to continue this virtuous circle.
And I’m not saying you’ll never fail — although I hate this word and prefer to see setbacks as opportunities to learn. But at least, you’ll be able to review your plans and adjust them and try again.
If you don’t set goals, however, it’ll be hard to measure your progress and assess whether you’re on the right track or not. So you might end up putting in 10 or 100 times the effort needed and even give up, just because you didn’t take the time to set your goals, plan their accomplishment, and review your progress regularly.
8. Live your dream life
For me, this is the most important point of all. If there’s one reason to set goals you should recall from this episode, it’s this one.
I believe we are extremely lucky to be given the privilege to be on this planet and that we should try to make the most of it. And I don’t think we should settle for anything less than what we want in this life because I truly believe we can get anything we want — if we actively work to get it, of course.
So set goals not because I tell you to or because it’s trendy to do so. Set goals because you want to make this experience on Earth as memorable and meaningful and happy as it can be!
So I hope I have convinced you to take some time now to set your goals. And even if people talk a lot about goal-setting towards the New Year, there’s never a bad time to set goals. So if you’re listening to this in May, for example, remember: there’s no bad moment to set goals!
You should set goals as often as possible: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc. And don’t forget that good goals are also reviewed periodically (at least once a month or quarter) to assess your progress and make sure you’re on track!
If you want a step-by-step guide to help you set your goals, encourage you to take action daily towards their accomplishment, and help you review your progress regularly, you can get my Goal-Setting Guide!
And if you want more personalized help to set your goals and create a clear action plan to achieve them, you can book a Goal-Setting Coaching Session with me!
I wish you a good goal-setting session, and I’ll see you for the next episode!
Matthews, G. (2020). Goals Research Summary. Retrieved from: https://www.dominican.edu/sites/default/files/2020-02/gailmatthews-harvard-goals-researchsummary.pdf